How much time does the average American spend on social media? eMarketer did an in-depth study that reveal some striking facts. Key among them is that the total time spent with media by adults (18+) averages 12 hours, 9 minutes per day.
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Pinterest. From psychological engineering to habit-forming and infinite newsfeeds, social media knows the techniques that can be used to keep users hooked. Imagine if that hypnotic power of social media can be given to eCommerce? That is exactly how social commerce was born.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are some of the social media platforms that allow retailers to run eCommerce operations through their channels. A GlobalWebIndex study on social behaviors unearthed the following statistics about customers engaging with brands on social media.
Social media gives customers a quick way to reach retailers. Since social media is built on information that is crowdsourced, it also makes it easier to find additional information like product reviews, influencer takes, and customer ratings.
Looking at the big picture, social commerce is but a subset of eCommerce. Except for the ease of accessing customers, social commerce faces the same challenges that eCommerce also faces - most importantly, the challenge of order fulfillment.
The problem with social commerce is that even the slightest slip in order fulfillment can trigger a series of ranting on social media which can do irreparable damage to a brand. So how can an online eCommerce brand optimize their order fulfillment for social commerce?
As another sales channel, your social channel will have its own separate pipeline of orders. Now these orders originating from diverse social channels must be merged with orders from all other channels as well. Integrated order management helps design a supply chain that gives end-to-end visibility of orders, their intended delivery locations and timelines in a single window.
Now integrated order management should not be done by relying on spreadsheets with countless tabs. Instead, opting for a cloud-based inventory management software will be a wise option. It can give a comprehensive view of inventory levels and also match it to the order fulfillment process seamlessly.
To cite an example, cloud-based inventory management software can show how many orders come in directly through the store’s website and how many originate from various social commerce stores like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. for a definite period of time.
Since the initial days of eCommerce, retailers have been displaying the inventory count beside the products. Now, this display of inventory level is done for specific reasons.
First, displaying a lower level inventory than the real count helps create a sense of urgency in the customer minds. It gives the product an exclusive image that is fast-moving and could run out-of-stock soon. This sense of urgency helps in selling more SKUs than otherwise. Secondly, it helps prevent ordering of out-of-stock products. No customer wants to see ‘Sorry, we’re out of stock’ message at the end of the transaction.
Thirdly, having a real-time pulse on inventory count helps allocate specific number of SKUs to each channel. For instance, while half of the inventory would be dedicated to direct orders, the other half could be split equally for social commerce channels.
The first Amazon delivery took a couple of days to reach the customer. And, it was sent via public carriers. Today, eCommerce retailers strike deals with third-party logistics players (3PLs) who can consolidate and accelerate their delivery timelines.
These 3PLs deploy analytics to figure out which locations have maximum order density, ideal location to pitch a distribution center, faster logistic channel and route to shorten delivery span and so on. In other words, they help consolidate deliveries for eCommerce players in a seamless fashion.
But, how does consolidating deliveries impact social commerce? Social media thrives with sharing and re-sharing of content. Quicker deliveries of shipments give customers a chance to share something with their social circles. Ordered through Facebook -> quick delivery at doorstep = share it on Facebook. It is a vicious cycle which will only do good for eCommerce players.
Today’s customers spent a large chunk of their daily life on social media. They look to virtual communities before making a purchase decision. They look at a brand’s social media presence, activities, response to customer queries to decide whether it is a brand they want to associate with.
Needless to say, social media is a great influence for customers’ buying decisions. For retailers, this is a double-edged sword. While social commerce gives instant access to millions of customers, managing order fulfillment for such a huge market is not easy. A strategic approach to order fulfillment is required to maximize social commerce success.
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